The cape was named by Captain James Cook in 1769. On his journey of discovery, he sailed south to this point before deciding to turn and head north around New Zealand, and named the point as a result of his decision.
Cape Turnagain is located 650km north-west of Chatham Island, making it the nearest point of mainland New Zealand from Chatham Island.
There is another Cape Turnagain or Point Turnagain on the Kent Peninsula in Arctic Canada.
- "Place Name Detail: Cape Turnagain". New Zealand Geographic Placenames Database. Land Information New Zealand. Retrieved 2010-03-25.
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